The Lomo Thermal Cycling Gilet is essentially a middleweight winter jersey without sleeves. It's been perfect for chilly spring rides, so long as you're using thinner jerseys and baselayers, but bear in mind it won't squish into a jersey pocket like a thinner, lighter shell type when temperatures climb.
According to Lomo, the outer is a 'Lycra based material', while the interior uses a micro-fleece for warmth. Elasticated cuffs, collar and waist tether it close while protecting the lower back and vital organs from chill.
After an unexpectedly mild spell, temperatures during the test period fell to between 3 and 9°C, often with a chill wind. The gilet's thermal qualities locked this out, maintaining a comfortable core and allowing me to relax and enjoy the ride.
Paired with a long-sleeve baselayer and middleweight jersey, wicking prowess has been pretty good too. Even with the zipper fully home and maintaining a steady 20mph I've never crossed from warm to clammy, though I needed to drop the zipper to chest height when temperatures hit 11-12°C, particularly when the sun came out.
Setting out in these temperatures, I've switched to a short-sleeve baselayer, short-sleeve summer jersey and arm warmers. Riding for 20 minutes or so at 20mph I wasn't surprised by the familiar mistiness that crept in around the lower back and chest area. However, with a merino baselayer this wicked away in a similar timescale, and dropping the zipper kept things in check.
On the rarer occasions where it turned unexpectedly milder, mid-ride, I did feel a little clammy around my back and chest. In these instances, I switched to lighter alternatives. Thankfully, my Univega has an SQR tour bag, since the Lomo gilet doesn't pack particularly small. With some efficient packing, I was able to cram it inside an Altura Aero Post Pack.
Water repellency is pretty much what I'd expect from a Lycra/fleece-lined garment. Showers were kept at bay for around 25 minutes, by which point it becomes moderately damp. Get a break in the cloud and a stiff breeze and it was predominantly dry in around 30 minutes; I never became cold during this period.
Standards of construction were reassuringly good on our sample. Stitching was uniform, and defect-free throughout.
I do a fair bit of mixed-terrain riding, taking in overgrown bridlepath, unmade roads and forest trails, often at night. Overhanging brambles, thorns and so on have all snagged the sides without inducing bobbling or similar damage.
Medium is reckoned good for chest sizes between 39 and 41 inches and it was perfect in every respect for my 181cm, 70-kilo frame. I am proportionally short in the torso, but the back hung at precisely the right height. (It's not me in the photos.)
While cut close, there's sufficient room for a winter-weight base and middleweight jersey beneath, without feeling cramped or restrictive.
The full-length zipper helps the snug, tailored fit, while making it easier to regulate temperature.
The gilet has three deep pockets with springy bottoms and elasticated tops. I've had no problems parking my usual ensemble – 6-inch smartphone, long zoom compact camera, bunch of keys – there securely, and the elasticated tops also make a secure mounting point for LED lights.
I sometimes like to carry 750/800ml bottles in my pockets, and though there's been some slight 'bob' with the biggest bottles when full, it's never come close to launching territory, even along unmade roads.
While practical, black can be a little too stealth for some tastes. Thankfully, subtle yet sensibly proportioned reflective logos and similar detailing are dotted around the collar, chest, neck and upper back.
Black is great for hiding grimy hands and similar patina, though, extending wear-to-wash ratios. Ours has been chucked in with the regular wash at 40 degrees with no shrinkage or hassles. It takes around 90 minutes or so at room temperature to dry, an hour or maybe less on the line, given some sun and a modest breeze.
At £21, the Lomo doesn't have much competition, especially those boasting thermal properties. Decathlon's Van Rysel RC 500 and RC 500 Ultralight are both £19.99 but not directly comparable (we tested an older B'Twin model back in 2014).
BTR's high-vis gilet, which comes in at £29.99, isn't cycling-specific, so lacks the Lomo's features, but it is very bright and features hip pockets which may suit commuters.
A quick look at other thermal or insulated gilets we've tested shows they can cost quite a lot more: Lusso's thermal gilet is £90, dhb's insulated Aeron Polartec Alpha is £100, and Endura's Pro Primaloft Gilet is £120.
Overall, the Lomo Thermal Cycling Gilet has a few compromises but it offers excellent protection against nasty chill and has a great, cycling-specific cut. Being picky, I'd like a little more reflective detailing around the lower back, but that said, the pocket tops make excellent hosts for blinkies, so mitigates this somewhat. For £21, it's well worth a look.
Great value cold weather gilet, though heavier and less packable than some
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Lomo Thermal Cycling Gilet
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Lomo says: "Our Thermal Cycling Gilet is a short-sleeved version of the popular Winter Thermal Cycling Top and is perfect for wearing over another t-shirt to improve core warmth.
"With a micro-fleece layer on the inside and a lycra-based material on the outside, these thermal jerseys have been designed to be both warm and comfortable. Both these layers are stretchy to ensure great performance and a close fit. Elastic has been added to the cuffs, collar and waist band to offer a comfortable yet flexible fit and to hold it in place while you cycle."
It's a very competent gilet for cold early season riding, but a water-repelling layer would make it better still.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
A full-length front zip allows ease of access and also ventilation once you've worked up a sweat. Essential items can be stored in the three pockets on the back.
The retro-reflective details on this stylish jersey help make the wearer visible to other road users, especially if cycling at night.
Rugged materials, neat, uniform stitching throughout.
Well designed for colder, early-season riding.
Holding up well thus far, despite regular use and repeated machine washing.
Cut was very good for me, permitting a long-sleeve base and middleweight, long-sleeve jersey beneath, with no bunching or restriction.
Medium was bang on.
Heavier than some, which might be a deal-breaker if you were wanting something that packed small, but certainly not outlandish given the materials and design.
Great on cold-cool rides.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Ours has responded very well to machine washing, even at 40 degrees.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, it has a few compromises but offers excellent protection against nasty chill and has a great, cycling-specific cut. Being picky, I'd like a little more reflective detailing around the lower back and a water-repelling layer but these are small points, especially when price is factored into the equation.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great cut, fit, generous pockets and protection from chill.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing major but a bit more reflective detailing around the back would be welcomed and a water-repelling layer would come in handy on longer rides/changeable conditions.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £21, there's not much competition, especially those boasting thermal properties. Decathlon's Van Rysel RC 500 and RC 500 Ultralight are both £19.99 but not directly comparable. BTR's high-vis gilet, which comes in at £29.99, isn't cycling-specific, so lacks the Lomo's features, but it is very bright and features hip pockets which may suit commuters.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A competent cold weather gilet with some pleasing features, especially for the modest price. A little more reflective detailing would be good, ditto a water-resistant layer, although this would probably push the price up.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)